Utah State women’s basketball action from the 2016 Mountain West Championships got underway Monday, when the seventh-seeded Aggies defeated No. 10 Nevada, 59-35 to advance to the quarterfinals.
Sophomore guard Funda Nakkasoglu led the Aggies with 18 points, but had help to get the team to victory. Junior forward Antoina Robinson recorded her first-career double-double Monday, finishing the game with 11 points and a career-best 13 rebounds. Freshman guard Rachel Brewster tallied 12 points in the game, her fourth straight game in double figures.
Utah State held Nevada to 35 points on the night, a season-low for any USU opponent. Additionally, USU held the Wolf Pack to just 21.9 percent (7-of-32) shooting in the first-half, which is the second-worst shooting percentage by an Aggie opponent in the first half this year.
With the win, Utah State improves to 14-16 on the season, while Nevada concludes the year with a 5-25 record.
The first half was a back-and-forth battle between the teams, who both struggled to shoot early on. Combined, the teams missed 11 straight shots from the floor, a skid that was ended by the Wolf Pack, giving Nevada the lead at the media timeout. The battle continued over the final three minutes, as the quarter ended in a 10-10 tie.
After a slow start in the second, the Aggie offense came alive, building up its lead. With help from an 8-2 and an 8-0 run, Utah State found the double digit advantage by the end of the quarter. The Aggies saw continued success from the free throw line in those final minutes, with four made free throws from senior guard Mariah Miles and another two from Nakkasoglu. Nevada added a pair of free throws to end the quarter, but Utah State went into the halftime break with a 30-22 lead.
The Aggies maintained momentum throughout the third quarter, keeping a double digit lead on Nevada for all but two minutes of action. As the final seconds ticked down, senior forward Julianne Anchling released a 3-point attempt that circled the rim before falling through the net. With what would be Anchling’s only points of the night, Utah State led, 44-31, at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was all Utah State as the Aggies held the Wolf Pack to four points in the final 10 minutes. Nevada got the first points of the quarter on a layup 30 seconds in, but USU answered with a 9-0 run. A trey from Brewster helped the Aggies find the first 20-point lead of the night. The final five minutes of the game were quiet, with Utah State adding six more points to its total, while holding Nevada without a basket to finish things off.
Overall, Utah State shot 37.3 percent (19-of-51) from the field, 23.1 percent (3-of-13) from the 3-point line and 81.8 percent (18-of-22) from the free throw line. Nevada shot 18.6 percent (11-of-59) from the field, 18.8 percent (3-of-16) from behind the arc and 83.3 percent (10-of-12) from the free throw line.
Utah State will return to the Thomas & Mack Center on Tuesday, March 8 for a 7 p.m. (MT) game against No 2. Fresno State. The Aggies and Bulldogs met twice this season, including in the regular season finale in Fresno last Friday.
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